Posts by Kelowna Museums

The Kelowna Museums Collection Connection: Sweet and Delicious

The Okanagan has long been synonymous with orchards, fruits and agriculture. Amongst the vast variety of fruits the valley produces, apples are one of the largest fruit industries and were integral to the early development of Kelowna. This Saturday, October 20th, the city will celebrate the Okanagan’s apple industry at the 24th annual Apple Fair at the B.C. Orchard Industry Museum.

The first apple orchard in the region was planted in the 1860’s at the mission of the Oblates of Mary the Immaculate. It isn’t known exactly where Father Pandosy acquired the first apple seedlings. Some say the seeds were sourced from St. Mary’s Mission soon after seedlings were brought to the Lower Mainland by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Another story claims that Father Pandosy planted the orchard from a cutting of an apple tree from John McIntosh’s famous orchard in Ontario.

The first agricultural attempts in Kelowna were focused on cattle and grains, but the success of the apple trees indicated to the early settlers that the Okanagan provided the right lands and climate for viable fruit orchards.

In her 1891 book on early life in the Okanagan, Lady Aberdeen noted the agricultural shift:

Up to now but little attention has been devoted to fruit growing, as this has been principally a stock raising country, but the possibilities shown by the few orchards already planted, point to its being found to possess exceptional advantages for the pursuit of this industry.

Apple Tree at Father Pandosy’s Mission

In 1901, the first straight car of apples was packed, loaded and shipped from the Okanagan Valley. It took two entire weeks just to assemble that first car of apples!  The fruit industry boomed in the early 20th century, and the number of packinghouses in the North End of Kelowna increased to keep up with demand for Okanagan fruit domestically and internationally. By 1928, the Valley was exporting more than four million boxes of apples, compared to only a few hundred thousand in 1910.

These years also marked the success of Okanagan apples as champions on the international fruit show circuit.  One of the earliest recognitions of the calibre of Okanagan apples came when Kelowna Farmer H.C. Mallam, won two first prize diplomas at the 1909 International Apple Show in Spokane, Washington.

Apple Display at Imperial Fruit Show, 1924 (England)

Okanagan apples also won several awards overseas at the British Commonwealth’s Imperial Fruit Shows in the early 20th century. Established in 1920, the Imperial Fruit Show was a contest and exhibition produce from all over the British Empire. Hugely popular, the shows often drew crowds of up to 90,000 people and provided a venue to introduce the variety of foreign produce, cultivation and canning techniques to the British public.

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The Kelowna Museums Collection Connection: Iʔ təmxʷulaʔxʷ iʔ txət̓ncutntət

Come to the Okanagan Heritage Museum and explore aboriginal ancestral connections to the land through cultural and contemporary media.

The Kelowna Museums, in collaboration with Westbank First Nation, is proud to present Iʔ təmxʷulaʔxʷ iʔ txət̓ncutntət – The Land is Our Culture; an exhibition celebrating the syilxʷ/Okanagan people and their interminable and vital connection to the land. Indeed, as the title states, the land is their culture.

Featured in this exhibition are the provocative artworks of Barb Marchand and Janine Lott, sylixʷ artists who express their personal and ancestral connections to the land through cultural and contemporary media and techniques.

Installing Artwork

Both artists discourage stereotypes that exclude their place in the context of modern or post modern approaches to art making. As Aboriginal women, they believe in a merging of the past, present and future, defined by ancient oral teachings called chaptikʷəɬ, stories and dreams. Inherent knowledge that transcends time is a common principle associated with Aboriginal worldview. “It’s in our DNA,” is a phrase coined by WFN female Elder/teacher and fluent language speaker, Delphine Derickson, which epitomizes this concept.

Prepping the Pendleton Blanket

This collaboration between the Kelowna Museums Society and Westbank First Nation is a first for the two organizations. “Westbank First Nation has had a long and positive relationship with the Kelowna Museums, and this exhibition is a reflection of that relationship,” says Gayle Liman, Heritage Officer and Curator for the Westbank First Nation. “The visual and written stories in this exhibition represent the authentic voice of the syilxʷ people, and the Kelowna Museums Society is to be commended for encouraging a collaboration in which that voice is predominant. WFN is grateful to all the Museums staff for their hard work and encouragement.”

Putting the Artefact Displays Together

Complementing the body of work created by the artists are accompanying artefacts from the Kelowna Museums collections, these bridge the current works to their ancestral roots. This marriage of ancient and contemporary blurs the common Euro Canadian perception of past and present, offering a more circular and unending worldview of ‘oneness.’

First Nation Basketry

The public opening of the exhibit will take place at the Okanagan Heritage Museum, located at 470 Queensway Avenue, on September 22nd, 2012 at 11:00 am.           The artists will be available from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm for an informal tour of the exhibit and to speak about their work, process and inspiration.

Iʔ təmxʷulaʔxʷ iʔ txət̓ncutntət – The Land is Our Culture will be featured until April 6th, 2013.


The Kelowna Museums Collection Connection – It’s Summer in the Okanagan!

When the sun comes out more often and the days are longer and warmer, the atmosphere in the air changes; we know summer is here. People walk around with smiles on their faces and long to be outside more than indoors.

It is a time when our Agricultural Industries thrives. The blossoming trees start to bear their summer fruit and fresh food is always on the menu. Okanagan Wineries have their light summer whites out for tasting and one can sit and gaze at the fields for what seems to be forever.

Kelowna is lucky to be surrounded by hills filled with hiking routes for beginners as well as the experienced. Mountain bikes, road bikes and motor bikes all enjoy the challenge. Transportation is less about the car and more about scooters, skate boards, roller blades and running shoes.

The Kelowna Public Archives is filled with photos and ephemera of Kelowna visitors and residents having fun in the sun. Having the lake, the center of our community, as the background for regatta, sailing, dragon boat and hydroplane activities is quite the site no matter if the images are in colour or black and white.

Recipe books, catalogues, brochures and event tickets bring back good memories and chronicle our summer activities and remind us of sunny days and warm nights in the Okanagan.

The Vince Bezeau Military Library and Archives also has some interesting materials on summer military activities. Have you ever seen anyone wrestle on a horse? There are plenty of challenges our Military has to face on a daily basis but sometimes fun can be had through competition and outdoor training in the sun, especially if there is a pleasant breeze.

Summer in the Okanagan is such a beautiful time of year, there is lots to do, our industries thrive and we all feel a strong sense of place when the hills are green, the sky is blue and the water is warm. We enjoy having picnics, going to outdoor concerts and the dive-in theater.

 What Are Your Best Summer Memories?

The Kelowna Museums Collection Connection – The BC Wine Museum and VQA Wine Shop

Perhaps some of you are familiar with the historic Laurel Packinghouse? The Laurel is a nationally-designated heritage building and is the oldest and largest standing packinghouse in British Columbia. It was built over the winter of 1917/18 and was a working packinghouse until the 1970s.

The Laurel Packinghouse

In 1982 the Kelowna Museums Society fought hard to save the building from demolition. In 1988 the building restoration was completed and in 1989 the British Columbia Orchard Industry Museum was officially opened. Further renovations to the building occurred in 1996 and resulted in the opening of The BC Wine Museum & VQA Wine Shop.

The Laurel then went through a restructuring phase between October 2009 and November 2010. As part of this the Orchard and Wine Museums were redesigned to better portray both of these local industries.

Vineyard, c. 1940's (KPA#9812)

Today there are approximately 209 BC Wineries and of these approximately 125 are VQA associated, of which 80+ are represented in the VQA Wine Shop! A large portion of all proceeds from the Wine goes back to the Wineries and the remainder of the proceeds go to support the Kelowna Museums – it’s a win-win situation, as we are able to support the local economy as well as promote our cultural heritage.

VQA Wine Shop

So now that you have some facts and history on the BC Wine Museum and VQA Wine Shop come in and take a look. Chat with our wine experts, try a sample of our daily wine pick or come on by for our weekly Saturday Tasting Series (2:00 pm to 4:00pm) every week or our monthly Neighbourhood Nosh (first Thursday from 4:00-6:00 pm).

BC Wine Museum and VQA Wine Shop hours: Mon.-Fri.: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, Sat: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Sun. & Holidays: 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.


The Kelowna Museums Collection Connection – We Have a New Exhibit!

There is a new exhibition at the Okanagan Heritage Museum that highlights what an Archives is. Did you know that the Kelowna Museums has two very different Archives and Reference Libraries?

Our Archives act as the community’s and region’s memory by collecting, cataloguing, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting archival material of social and historical significance.  As a general rule the majority of documents are primary sources, making them unique, as they are mostly unpublished papers and photographs that have been accumulated by individuals or organizations over a period of time.

Prepping the Space for the New Archives Exhibit

The Kelowna Public Archives, located on the first floor of the Okanagan Heritage Museum, is an important community resource. Historians, students, personal and academic researchers, special interest groups, media and professional personnel all use the Archives to access information on Kelowna and the surrounding area, people who live here and our associated industries such as the Orchard and Wine Industry.

Prepping the Exhibition Case

The Vince Bezeau Military Library and Archives, located on the second floor of the Okanagan Military Museum, focuses on those who were born here, those who live(d) here and those who fought in the battalions and regiments of the Okanagan. Items are collected in order to preserve this rich history and to teach the next generations about the vital role the Okanagan Military plays in Canadian sovereignty. The associated Reference Library compliments the Archives and is specialized as this collection focuses on books relating to the Canadian Military, those published by Canadian authors or published by Canadian companies.

We would like to encourage you to come to the Okanagan Heritage Museum to visit our newest exhibition and make an appointment with one of our Archivists if you are interested in seeing what the Kelowna Public Archives or the Vince Bezeau Military Library and Archives has to offer.

Be sure to stop by the Okanagan Heritage Museum often, as the Archives exhibition will be changing every few months to highlight the breadth of materials and stories that these important community resources hold within their walls.

The Kelowna Museums Collection Connection – We’re Having a Party!

It’s a very exciting time here at the Museums! We are gearing up to open 2 new and exciting exhibitions at the Okanagan Heritage Museum and to celebrate we are having a PARTY!!!!

Love is in the air and we have managed to capture it for everyone to enjoy. On Thursday, March 8th we will be hosting a reception to remember, at the Laurel Packinghouse, with the ladies from Stage Right Etc.

Now is your chance to wear your wedding dress again, pull out your tux from the back of your closet, or show off your ‘best’ bridesmaids dress. Just like all of the best weddings, there will be lots of entertainment. Two DJ’s will be spinning beats all night long. Enjoy eats and treats designed by Chef Mark Filatow of Details Catering and Waterfront Wines. You can wet-your-whistle with a choice of local wine and beer which will be available for purchase. Toast to an evening of fun and folly with the Something Old, Something New.

The Party starts at 7:00

Tickets are $30 and can be purchased in advanced from the VQA Wine Shop and the Okanagan Heritage Museum

For more information call: 778.478.0325 or send an e-mail to



The Kelowna Museums Collection Connection – Aliens Among Us

Every day we walk around and sometimes we notice the buildings we drive by, the people we walk by, we may even take in a view of the trees, the lake or look up to the sky. Most of the time, things look typical but did you know there are Aliens Among Us!

Have you ever stopped to smell the flowers and noticed the insects flying around, what about all those animals in the forest, the fish in the lake and the birds in the sky? Where do they all come from? British Columbia has over 4,000 invasive microorganism, plant and animal species and it is not always easy to identify them.

Aliens Among Us is a travelling exhibition created by the Royal BC Museum. This exciting and informative exhibition has made its first stop here in Kelowna at the Okanagan Heritage Museum and will teach you how to identify some of these invaders. Walk around the central gallery and see if you can identify any of the different intruders which have landed in our Province. You can even visit to keep track from home. From this website, which has been funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage for the Virtual Museum of Canada, you can upload the location of an alien sighting, put images of these aliens on the site and even add field notes. But perhaps one of the best features of the website is that you can ask questions and have a Royal BC Museum Invasive Species Expert give you the answer – how cool is that!

In addition to this you can put the Aliens Among Us App on your iPhone or iPad!!! Browse interesting facts and report sightings in real time, by doing this you can help our community to keep the alien numbers from growing and completely taking over our natural species.

This exhibition will be at the Okanagan Heritage Museum only until Saturday February 4th, 2012. The Okanagan Heritage Museum is located at 470 Queensway Ave. (next to the downtown bus loop) and is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm and on Saturdays from 10am to 4pm. Don’t miss your chance, head to the Museum with your family and friends and get up close and personal with an Alien!

The Kelowna Museums Collection Connection – Nice to Meet You!

Hello Awesome Okanagan Readers -It’s Great to Meet You!

Kelowna and the Okanagan is full of interesting history, people, innovations and ideas. All of this and more can be found within the invisible walls of the Kelowna Museums Society which believe it or not is comprised of 5 different museums, 2 Archives and Reference Libraries, a specialized Conservation Laboratory, a very cool Heritage Building, a VQA Wine Shop which is open 7 days a week, and 2 associated gift shops!

Some of you may be familiar with the Okanagan Heritage Museum (the Kelowna Museum), that big grey building with the big red MUSEUM on the side which faces the Kelowna downtown Bus Loop. You may have come to some of our exhibitions, checked out our Fabulous Finds and One-of-a-Kind Gift Shop, or participated in some of our education programs as a kid? But do you know that the Kelowna Public Archives and the Ursula Surtees Regional Conservation Laboratory are located on the first floor of the Museum? Ever been to the Okanagan Military Museum,  which is right next door?  Well, up the stairs is the Okanagan Military Heritage Research Center which is the home of the Vince Bezeau Military Archives and Library. How about the BC Orchard Industry Museum or the BC Wine Museum and VQA Wine and Gift Shop which are located inside the historic Laurel Packinghouse? What about the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame Museum which is presented through several exhibition cases at the Capri Mall?

Each of these facilities are here for you and have a specific purpose in our community! There are about 20 staff members that work for the Kelowna Museums and over the next several months we will be introducing ourselves to you and letting you know what awesome things we are up to.

The Collections and Conservation Department is thrilled to be administering this blog and so we thought we would introduce ourselves to you.

Donna Johnson

Telling New Historians about the Kelowna Public Archives

Donna was born in Grenfell, Saskatchewan,  and moved to Kelowna when she was eight years old (we won’t tell you how long she has been living in Kelowna, as a lady never tells her age…). What we will say is that Donna graduated from Kelowna Secondary School and started volunteering with the Kelowna Museums when she was 18 years old! A few years later she became the Program Coordinator for the Education Department and in 2000, Donna officially moved into the position of Archivist.

As Archivist, Donna is responsible for assisting researchers, accepting archival donations, and maintaining and organizing the Archives and her Volunteers. Over the last few years, the Kelowna Public Archives has undergone extensive renovations which have created more space and easier access for all staff and researchers (yay!).

Donna has been employed at the Kelowna Museums longer than anyone else that works there and encourages everyone to contact her about the services her department provides.

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